Faculty Articles


A Qualitative Study Examining Health Literacy and Chronic Illness Self-management in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Older Adults

Document Type


Publication Date



health disparities, older adults, resilience, computer interventions, comorbidity, multimorbidity

Publication Title

Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare






Purpose: Chronic illness and low levels of health literacy affect health outcomes for many individuals, particularly older adults and racial/ethnic minorities. This study sought to understand the knowledge, strengths, and areas of need regarding self-management of chronic illness in order to lay the groundwork for content development of an intervention to increase health literacy and maximize patient engagement in chronic disease self-care.

Patients and methods: In-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted in Spanish and English with 25 older adults with various chronic illnesses. Topics included knowledge and understanding of chronic conditions, medications, and disease self-management skills. Qualitative data were coded by searching text and conducting cross-case analysis. An inductive analysis was then employed to allow for the patterns and themes to emerge.

Results: Emerged themes included 1) social support, 2) coping strategies, 3) spirituality, 4) chronic disease health literacy, 5) anger, and 6) depression. While participants had a general overall knowledge of chronic illness, they had deficits in knowledge regarding their own illnesses and medications.

Conclusion: Chronic illness self-management is a complex and dynamic behavioral process. This study identified themes that leverage patient motivation to engage in self-care in a personalized manner. This information will guide the development of an intervention to promote health literacy and optimal disease self-management.



Peer Reviewed

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